ESPN is pay TV’s most expensive basic offering, observes Deadline Hollywood, at an estimated $4.69 per customer per month. Still, ESPN President John Skipper defends ESPN as “bringing great value and getting paid for that value.” Skipper made the remark at yesterday’s D: Dive Into Media conference, hosted by AllThingsD.
“The rates we get from distributors are directly correlated to the value we provide,” Skipper said. Moreover, Skipper will be certain that it retains its value, by closely guarding its TV viewership. ESPN acquires rights for its content on all devices, but Skipper pledges the channel will not use digital platforms to draw viewers away from cable and satellite. “We don’t cannibalize ourself, we use those platforms to cross-promote,” with mobile alerts and fantasy game applications, among other offerings.
Digital rights could give ESPN a leg up over such rising competitors as NBC Sports Network. But as AllThingsD describes, the value of that guarded distributorship is strong local ad sales, and the draw of 3-D and HD content, which ESPN has pioneered. Skipper added that he believes the espnW web site, a women’s sports outlet, will become a cable channel.